For the record this post is going to be a large brain-dump as I work through recent thoughts, so it may not be useful for everyone.
For no reason other than I’m me and thus crazy, I’ve been thinking a lot about my online presence and all that entails. Cause the thing is, I’m a joiner. I want to know what all the kids are doing so I join a bunch of random sites. I obviously have twitter and facebook, but I also have tumblr and pinterest and an instagram and recently got a snapchat (which I hate, but the account exists). So the question becomes, how protected am I? Who sees what?
Last year, after Twitter Math Camp 2014, I had my tweets unprotected. I liked that my tweets could be retweeted and commented on, I liked that I didn’t have to go in and approve follower requests. It helped me feel more a part of the community. But then on random night one of my students followed me, and I panicked. Not because my twitter feed is filled with accounts of IV drug use and plotting the downfall of the American government, but I hadn’t been censoring myself. There were curse-words and references to a night out or two, or about a celebrity I found attractive. Things I’d have no problem saying to another adult, even in a work setting, but didn’t need a bunch of teenagers to see. For example, I had a tweet (which I can’t find now) that was something along the lines of “If I took a drink every time I saw this stupid mistake, I’d be very drunk right now.” It was funny, and other teachers laughed. But then a kid repeated it back to me in class. Nope. So I blocked the student that had followed me and I protected my tweets.
While I regret that particular tweet a bit, I don’t regret that decision. For me, twitter is a space where I can collaborate and commiserate with other educators (as well as keep abreast of entertainment news in real time). I like being myself on there because I want to connect with my peers in an authentic way. And authentic me curses like a sailor while talking about having a glass of wine. Yeah, I mostly talk about the best way to teach factoring and what makes for a good activity, but those bits are interspersed and I like them. I’ve given thought to censoring myself, but the fact is I’m not very good at remembering to do that. I slip up sometimes, and I don’t like that a way I slip-up could be recorded.
The trick is, then I get comments like this from my kids. And I wonder if there isn’t some value to the kids seeing more of my personality outside of the classroom. If seeing me getting really annoyed at the subway system or commenting about last night’s episode of Empire isn’t important and something my kids should see. The teacher talk will bore them and eventually they’ll lose interest, anyway. So I struggle with a way to be present in some form of social media without being SO present in social media.
One thing I’ve been kicking around is if I should create a new instagram account. It would be pictures of mathy things, mainly, but maybe I throw in a shot of me at the Brooklyn Bridge or a shot of my favorite dinner from the week. I don’t know. A way to connect with the world in a teacher-friendly way. Granted I’d never follow kids or interact with them online, that’s just too risky, but if I have things posted so they could see? I don’t know. A stronger voice inside my head says “This is a bad idea” but I know some teachers really value having their kids look at their twitter so I’m trying to figure it out. I’m still relatively new to this so I’ll sit with it for a while.